The first thing to note about Billy Droze’s first album with Rural Rhythm Records is that it packs a one-two wallop with the opening two songs. To Whom It May Concern opens with the haunting “Kentucky Blue,” a soulful tune he wrote that raced up the bluegrass charts, and is followed by “Better With Time,” another hit, co-written by Droze, Ronnie Bowman, and James Ervan Parker. Bowman is also the producer of the album.
Droze may be new to many, but has quite the songwriting resume, penning hits for The Grascals, Flatt Lonesome, Junior Sisk, Marty Raybon, Shenandoah, Randy Kohrs, Billy Yates, Darryl Worley, and a host of others. Some may remember Droze’s father, Bob “Red” Droze, who recorded for Rural Rhythm in 1962. If Billy Droze sounds somewhat familiar, he sang lead for Shenandoah on several tours under the name Billy Ryan. Make no mistake though, he has the singing and writing chops to make a serious mark on the bluegrass world, based on this strong release. Droze wrote or co-wrote 11 of the 12 cuts and has a voice that won’t be confused with others.
In addition to Bowman, he’s joined on the album by Rob Ickes, Andy Leftwich, and Scott Vestal, among other accomplished bluegrassers. To Whom It May Concern is strong throughout, with other cuts sure to get airtime, including “Sounds Like Pretty Music,” “Rain Won’t Quit,” and the gospel tune “My Father’s Son.” (www.ruralrhythm.com)MKB